As a project manager, you have probably been in this situation where a project is well under way and task after a task is being handled by your team – but very, very slowly. Efficiency is low, productivity is low, and even though everyone seems to be working around the clock; nothing gets done on time. Questions arise.
You approach one of your designers:
“Can you tell me what have you been up to today?”
“Well, I’m finishing up on that logo design.” – He answers briefly. – “And I’ve completed a few trivial tasks here and there. Nothing to write home about really.”
“And what about the time you’ve spent doing it? Can you tell me how many billable hours you’ve put in today?”
“No… I’m afraid I can’t.” – it seems that the question caught him by surprise. – “To be perfectly honest, I don’t track my working hours. I always assumed that we are paid monthly no matter the work we do.”
Afterward, both of you went your separate ways: the designer probably headed to the local pub, while you sat down at your desk, reflecting on a rather painful conversation you just had:
“Time tracking!” – you conclude without hesitation – “We need to track our time if we want to increase our productivity!”
Prerequisites for time tracking
First of all, to properly track time, your team needs to be:
Honest: If there is no honesty in time tracking, what’s the point? If your team considers coffee and lunch time, as well as obligatory “youtube time” to be part of working hours than it is entirely understandable that certain tasks take much longer than they should.
Consistent: It doesn’t matter that your team tracked time yesterday. If they forget to do it today, the entire process becomes meaningless. There is no point in knowing how much time was spent on the certain task on May 24th if there is no before and after record.
Meticulous: Sometimes, it’s the minutes and not hours that matter. If you are handling a team that has no concept of time tracking, make them track their work in minutes, not hours. So if the certain task takes 25 minutes to be completed, they can reward themselves with a short five-minute break. This methodology is also known as Pomodoro Technique.
Only if you conclude that your team has proven to have these qualities, you can implement time tracking in the day to day work.
Time tracking helps productivity?
- It keeps you accountable – to yourself
Logging time keeps you accountable toward wasted time – at the moment’s notice. No one will notice if a team member spends 15 to 30 minutes a day browsing through nonwork-related blog posts about gadgets or sports. However, it is important that he, himself develops a sense of productive time management. If he realizes midday that he spent an hour (a quarter of a working day) browsing the web instead of doing the actual work, his attitude might change.
- Provides precise project timelines
By implementing time tracking, you can provide your team and your clients with the more accurate project management timeline. Based on past experiences you can assess project time frames more realistically, thus enabling yourself more breathing room when scheduling. Guessing how much time it takes for a project to be completed can put you and your team under tremendous pressure and can prove dire in certain situations.
- Better time management
With a time tracking tool, your team members will be able to focus on their tasks and can pinpoint the activities that are taking up much of their time, thus helping them focus on productive activities. Also, a time tracking software (if you choose to implement one) will help you keep a check on team attendance.
- Helps you determine your team’s pace
It is all about workload with this one. By figuring out the speed at which your team can accomplish certain goals and milestones, can help you determine if the hourly rate you’ve asked for was reasonable. Also, it helps you determine number projects you can handle in a given period. This can give you a valuable insight into your capabilities and the amount of work you can handle.
- Gives you access to actionable data
In the end, let us get back to the basics: The most important reason to track your time is so you have an insight into how long it took your team to accomplish the project and all of the tasks that it included. This information will provide you with much-needed knowledge – knowledge required to make good data-driven business decisions. This way you can identify unanswered business questions, find the data to answer your questions and work out if the costs and effort are justified. Overall, time tracking will provide with a clear picture what your business needs and what can be improved.
Should you implement time tracking in your organization? The answer is YES! Will it take some time for the team to get used to it? Probably… It is a process, after all. However, in time they will also realize that this measure will help them complete their work more efficiently and with much less effort.